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Skilling to Be Sentenced for Enron Conviction

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The business news starts with a reckoning for Jeffrey Skilling.

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INSKEEP: The former Enron CEO will be sentenced today in Houston for his role in the accounting fraud that brought down the energy giant in 2001.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN: The executive who once sat in splendor on the 50th floor of a gleaming glass building is now looking at spending much of the remainder of his life in federal prison. Under sentencing guidelines, Jeff Skilling is facing more than 20 years and millions of dollars in fines. The jury convicted him of 19 counts of lying, fraud and conspiracy, and the former CEO suffered another blow when his boss and co-conspirator Kenneth Lay, the former chairman of Enron, died unexpectedly of heart disease.

Lay, convicted of 10 counts of fraud, conspiracy, and lying, would have shared some of the blame. Now there is only Skilling. A long line of angry employees and investors are expected to testify against the defendant in court today.

Skilling is appealing his conviction. And U.S. district judge Sim Lake has three post-sentence options. After handing out Skilling's sentence, the judge could send Skilling to prison immediately, or the judge could allow him to report to the Bureau of Prisons and have a month or two at home before heading to jail. Or Skilling could remain free, pending resolution of his appeal.

Lawyers who followed the trial closely say a successful appeal is unlikely and that Judge Lake is likely to order that Skilling be taken into custody immediately.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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